Indonesia’s National Police, in conjunction with Interpol, are intensifying efforts to combat the pervasive issue of online gambling within the country. Despite the prohibition of all forms of gambling, both online and land-based, Indonesia faces a significant challenge in curbing illicit activities.

Joint efforts with Interpol:

Inspector General Krishna Murti, head of the National Police’s International Relations Division, disclosed, as reports, that Indonesia is actively engaging with Interpol’s Senior Officer Meeting on Transnational Crime in Laos this week. This strategic collaboration aims to bolster information sharing and operational coordination to identify and dismantle online gambling networks operating within Indonesia.

In addition to Interpol, Indonesian authorities are enhancing cooperation with neighboring countries’ police forces. This cooperative effort is crucial, given the involvement of Indonesian nationals in illegal online gambling activities across Southeast Asia.

To prevent suspects from leaving the country to participate in or manage online gambling operations abroad, the National Police have implemented stringent measures. These include passport revocations, travel restrictions, and outright bans on departure for individuals suspected of involvement in illegal gambling.

Indonesia’s government has mandated telecommunications providers to block access to websites suspected of facilitating illegal online gambling, particularly those operating from Cambodia and the Philippines. This proactive step is part of broader efforts to stem the influx of gambling-related activities that threaten social order and financial stability.

The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center of Indonesia reported a concerning surge in online gambling transactions, amounting to over IDR600 trillion ($36.4 billion) in the first quarter of 2024 alone. Such activities carry severe penalties under Indonesian law, with participants and organizers facing up to 10 years in prison and substantial fines.

Escalating concerns and enforcement actions:

According to Kongah from Indonesia’s Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, the number of transactions linked to gambling has been steadily rising. In 2022, approximately 11,000 suspicious transactions were recorded, which nearly doubled to 24,000 in 2023. By mid-2024, another 14,000 transactions had been flagged, underscoring the magnitude of the challenge.

The government has responded by temporarily freezing thousands of bank accounts suspected of involvement in illegal gambling activities. Funds associated with these accounts have been traced flowing out of Indonesia to destinations such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Cambodia, necessitating cross-border cooperation to mitigate financial outflows.

Using advanced artificial intelligence systems and cyber patrols, Indonesia’s Ministry for Communications and Information has blocked more than 2 million online gambling websites. Despite these efforts, alternative sites continue to surface, prompting ongoing enforcement actions against operators and promoters of illicit gambling platforms.

In a decisive move, President Joko Widodo established a dedicated task force in June 2024 to intensify the crackdown on online gambling nationwide, as Asia Gaming Brief writes. This initiative responds to reports linking some gambling operations to money laundering activities, underscoring the multifaceted threats posed by illicit gambling networks.